Racial Equity Learning Together

From Christine Melchert, MSO cellist

This week we were fortunate to rehearse “African Suite: IV. Dance Negre” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a composer many of us were unfamiliar with.  Here are some fun facts about him:

– His mother named him after the famous English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
– His first commission came via Edward Elgar
– His most famous work is “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” based on a poem by Longfellow
– He was influenced by his friendship with African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar to concentrate on his African heritage in his music
– He was 23 years old when he wrote “Danse Negre” (the 4th and most familiar movement of “African Suite which highlights elements of the African experience)
– He was hugely popular in the United States 110 years ago and inspired leading figures in the early civil rights movement
– In 1904, he was the first black man to conduct a white orchestra in America
– You can watch a 2 hour documentary on YouTube about  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America (1900-1912)
– Chineke! Orchestra has made more of his music familiar like this Ballade for Orchestra Opus 33

I highly recommend this in-depth and fascinating presentation about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and the Musical Fight for Civil Rights

You can also listen here to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s All Time Best Works.